Global Threat To Health

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5th July 2009, 01:02pm - Views: 433

International Conference on Realising the Rights to Health and

Development for All, Hanoi, Vietnam, October 26-29, 2009.

July 5, 2009, University of New South Wales (UNSW)

Asia's economic transformation is putting the region's health at risk, a leading

academic has warned.

UNSW Professor of Health and Human Rights, Daniel Tarantola, says despite

extraordinary progress which has lifted 600 million people out of poverty in Asia since

1990, the basic right to health is under threat and the future looks more uncertain. 

"The gap between the rich and poor is growing. The poor are getting sicker in crowded,

polluted slums as Asia rapidly urbanizes, while the diseases of affluence like

cardiovascular disease, cancer and depression are hitting the new rich," he says.

"The basic human right to health and economic development are inextricably linked, so we

have to understand this complex relationship if we are going to turn Asia's growing wealth

into better health."

The first international conference to be held in Asia on health, human rights and

development will consider the major threats to global and regional public health. 

”Realising the rights to health and development for all necessitates bold actions on

concurrent crises facing the word. Public health emergencies, economic globalization and

climate change figure prominently among them” says Associate Professor Dr Dao Duy

Quat, of the Central Commission for Popularization and Education of the Communist Party

of Vietnam.

The conference will be co-hosted by UNSW's Initiative on Health and Human Rights and

the Central Commission for Popularization and Education of The Communist Party of

Vietnam, in Hanoi, 26-29 October, 2009. It will examine access to basic health services,

public health challenges and looming health emergencies, such as pandemics, and how

they can be best addressed through human rights-based approaches. 

Globally, the health care picture is troubling. Despite extraordinary advances in medical

science, the gap between the promises of modern health systems and the world's disease

burden is growing. 

Asia is especially vulnerable as it has the highest out-of-pocket health care costs and the

lowest per cent of GDP government spending on health. “Asia hosts the highest number of

households driven into poverty by health care costs, yet also boasts some of the world's

best medical services for those who can pay", says Professor Tarantola. 

"Being poor and poorly educated makes people sick, and being sick often makes people

poor. Health and development are inextricably linked." 

This is the first conference hosted in the developing world to bring together the three

critical areas of study - rights, health and development.  “It's a vital step in forging a path

forward for global health" says Dr Cao Duc Thai, former Director of the Vietnamese

Institute for Human Rights, of the Ho Chi Minh National Political - Administrative Academy.

Professor Tarantola says Vietnam is an ideal location and case study for the conference

because it has achieved notable progress in health and in development but is facing many

of common health threats linked to rapid industrialization and urbanization.

The conference is co-sponsored by The Atlantic Philanthropies, AusAID (Vietnam),

USAID/Health Policy Initiative, OneUN (Vietnam), the Open Society Institute, and the John

Hirshman International Health and Populations Studies Fund.

Media contact: Steve Offner, University of NSW, + 61 (0) 424 580 208, + 612 9385 8107


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